DRIVER NEWS: Al Fardan conquers ultra-fast Thruxton
DRIVER NEWS: Thruxton, Hampshire: Things have been looking good for Hamad Al Fardan over the past few Formula 3 races and this weekend was no different as the Gulf Finance House driver came away from Thruxton with two more fantastic podium finishes.
Al Fardan headed to Thruxton circuit in Hampshire this weekend knowing that if he came away with more good points third place in the National Class championship would be well within his reach and he didn't disappoint. Despite having never competed at the ultra-fast circuit near Andover the rookie started his weekend in superb style by setting the fastest time in Friday's free practice with a 1:07.139 lap.
As temperatures soared for Saturday's qualifying sessions Al Fardan had a day of mixed fortunes. Heavy traffic meant he was unable to get a clean lap and match his impressive time set during practice the day before. As a result the young Bahraini qualified his Dallara Mugen-Honda third and fifth for the two Lloyds TSB Insurance British Formula 3 Series races.
Qualifying 1: 3rd position, 1:07.813s
Qualifying 2: 5th position, 1:08.203s
Al Fardan didn't have the best start to race one and lost out to Meadows, however thanks to a slight mistake from the Raikkonen Robertson Racing driver Al Fardan was able to pass him soon after and regain track position. Thanks to an incident in the Championship Class between Bird and Mustonen the safety car was deployed on lap 11 giving Al Fardan the chance to catch up with the rest of the pack. At the end of the race the Bahraini found himself battling with team-mate Cheng and Mike Meadows and on the final lap Al Fardan and Meadows managed to pass Cheng to claim the two other podium finishes at the chequered flag. Perez took his 11th win with apparent ease after an early battle with Frankie Cheng.
Al Fardan had another difficult start in race two and a mix up concerning the safety car meant he found himself at the back of the grid, however things were worse for Mike Meadows and Al Fardan's team-mate Frankie Cheng as a collision put both cars into the barriers and out of the race. The Safety Car was brought out and the incident put Sergio Perez in a comfortable lead at the front of the National Class. The race resumed on lap 6 and Al Fardan continued picking his way back up the field, he was soon into third position after getting the best of championship rival Viktor Jensen. The remainder of the race was incident free and Al Fardan drove in clear air to the chequered fag and his tenth podium of the season.
Race 1: 2nd position, 30:17.892 (24 laps)
Race 2: 3rd position, 31:06.17 (24 laps)
Hamad Al Fardan - Performance Racing driver "The weekend has ended really well and I am pleased with my results, especially considering that I have never raced on the circuit before. It is a great circuit, really fast. The first race started ok but I lost my track position but Meadows made a slight mistake and I managed to take my position back. It was lucky for me when the safety car came out and I pushed really hard. I had a really good battle with Cheng and Meadows on the last lap, but I had a good tow and managed to brake later than them putting me up into second.
Race two was about getting points, I knew meadows was out early on and had an opportunity to close up the gap in the championship. I spent a lot of the race behind Jensen which held me up but I eventually passed him in turn two. I am pleased with the weekend overall and can't wait to get to Croft and hopefully move up into third in the championship."
Peter Panayiotou - Deputy CEO and Chief Investment Office GFH "Hamad has demonstrated that with the right combination of practice and talent you get an inspiring and motivated sportsman. We are proud of his achievements and continue to be fully behind him."
Although Mexico's Sergio Perez and China's Cheng Cong Fu continue to dominate the National Class with 15 wins between them, Al Fardan, currently fourth in the table, was confident that he could bridge the 20 point gap between himself and championship rival Michael Meadows in third. At Thruxton he did just that… two podium finishes and 27 points mean he is now just 5 points behind his championship rival.